Negotiations of Socialist Modernity: the Czech glass figurine (from the late 1940s-1960s)

Bell, Rebecca ORCID: (2020) Negotiations of Socialist Modernity: the Czech glass figurine (from the late 1940s-1960s). The Journal of Modern Craft, 13 (2) . pp. 137-159. ISSN 1749-6772 [Article] (doi:10.1080/17496772.2020.1815401)

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This article presents the glass figurine as means of understanding making and socialist modernity in Czechoslovakia during the first two decades of Socialism (late 1940s-1960s). Through studying the work of glass artists such as Jaroslav Brychta and Miloslav Klinger, I show how these small, apparently humble figurines offer insight into the status and hierarchies of objects made for decorative and commemorative purposes. They show us the methods through which Czech practitioners actively negotiated socialist modernities. Czech glass figurines have held a somewhat uneasy position in canonical hierarchies, impacted by their associations with souvenirs, export, kitsch and humor. However, state approval endowed them with a certain gravity conditioned by selective historical and material associations. Authorities hoped the figurines would offer a form of ideological interpretation of socialism accessible to their consumers. I present the varying roles allocated to the figurines, which were bound to key ongoing narratives concerning craft and the modern inherited from the pre-Socialist period. The figurines enable understandings of the pluralist nature of craft in Socialist Czechoslovakia, providing a new reading of this under-attended area within international scholarship.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The Journal of Modern Craft Volume 13—Issue 2—July 2020, pp. 137–159
Keywords (uncontrolled): glass, socialist modern, Czechoslovakia, figurine, communism
Research Areas: A. > School of Art and Design
Item ID: 31140
Notes on copyright: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in The Journal of Modern Craft on 03/11/2020, available online:
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Depositing User: Rebecca Bell
Date Deposited: 09 Oct 2020 11:36
Last Modified: 03 May 2022 03:04

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